McDonald's Quarter Pounder - Detail - © 2017 McDonald's

McD’s ‘Watershed Moment’: Fresh Beef!

McDonald’s announced, yesterday, that it will be switching to fresh Beef patties in its iconic Quarter Pounders all across the U.S. over the coming year. While we’ve seen some pretty far-out menu items and marketing tactics from the burger giant before, this change is making huge waves…

McDonald's Quarter Pounder - © 2017 McDonald'sThe classic Quarter Pounder – soon with fresh-never-frozen Beef!

McDonald’s certainly isn’t the first big burger chain to use fresh meat rather than frozen patties. But it is the acknowledged industry bellwether and its announcement this week, if only for quarter pounders at first, marks a big change in the industry. For once, McD’s isn’t ‘first’ to offer an innovation. It’s following, rather than leading on this one.

The company said, in a statement, that the change was green-lighted after a major market test in the U.S. Southwest – the Beef Belt – at more than 300 outlets. The response from customers, McD’s reports, was ‘overwhelmingly positive’.

The change also underlines how important freshness is perceived to be, by the Burger slingers, among their clientele. It’s no small commitment, either. McDonald’s will have to source millions of lb./kg of fresh beef within a relatively short distance from every outlet. Fresh Ground Beef is among the fastest spoilers in the Meat Cooler. And that means a lot of changes for McD’s franchisees, in their supply chain management. Rather than taking delivery of frozen patties once a month, they’ll have to arrange for deliveries of fresh patties two or three times a week.

But McD’s is mandating the change anyway, regardless of cost or bother, because it believes it must do so to remain competitive (or even remain the industry leader). Bloomberg Business News called it a ‘watershed moment’.

Will the Quarter Pounder increase in price? Will there be occasions when it will sell out for a day or so, until the next arrival of fresh patties? We’ll just have to wait and see.

And what of the competition?

Outlets like Wendy’s, Five Guys, Shake Shack, In-N-Out and Smashburger are already riding high on the ‘fresh-never-frozen’ bandwagon. Now that McD’s has gone over to the ‘fresh’ side, how long will it be before the remaining hold-outs follow suit?

~ Maggie J.